In 1705, about three decades before the end of Medici rule and eleven years before Grand Duke Cosimo III’s 1716 notice defining the boundaries of the Chianti production area, the Florentine Melini family, wealthy Val di Sieve entrepreneurs, decided to begin winegrowing.The Melinis began producing Vermiglio, a classic red Tuscan table wine.The wines were marketed in drums, but preservation and freight posed considerable problems, which the Melini winemakers strove to solve following the advice of the leading experts of the time, including Cosimo Villifranchi:“for export the wines need to be full-bodied and lively, but also pure, without intrusions … and cellars dug into the rocks where the wine will remain exquisite for many years”.
From the outset Melini was at the forefront in the use of technology. As early as 1830, following suggestions by Novellucci of Prato, the wine was heated for a few minutes at 50 °C. In other words, it was pasteurized using an innovative stabilization process of the time, which Louis Pasteur described in his Etudes sur les vins of 1866.
The turning point was in 1860 (the year before the proclamation of the Unification of Italy), when Adolfo Laborel Meli adopted the “fiasco strapeso”, flask invented by master glazier Paolo Carri. In the tempered glass container, resistant to pressure of the cork applied by machine, the Chianti wine was able to reach Italian and foreign markets more easily.
In 1877, the Florence Chamber of Commerce and Arts assigned Melini a diploma with a gold medal “for having established the most extensive and assured trade of Tuscan wine abroad”.And Melini has not lost this pre-eminence over time: even today it is one of the most popular brands in all countries.
1900: In the 20th century, after winemaker Luigi Melini was killed as a volunteer in the Great War, the Pontassieve winery was purchased by Buitoni of Perugia, and then sold to Martini & Rossi of Turin.Ownership then passed to Gruppo Italiano Vini, and the headquarters of the venerable company moved to the Chianti Classico zone of Gaggiano di Poggibonsi, in the province of Siena.